August 17, 2012
I picked up a beautiful, heavy and sweet local watermelon at my neighborhood Giant Eagle Market District. I still can’t believe that this is my normal, everyday, hey-we’re-out-of-milk grocery store – it’s humongous. But I have to give them props: for being as huge as they are, they do try for a couple of months to really bring in a bunch of locally grown and raised produce. I really like that.
So back home, I was cutting it up and then slicing up all the leftover rinds so that they would break down faster in the compost pile and it hit me. People make pickles out of this stuff. And thankfully it’s less for the compost pile to try to digest, which is a good thing this time of year, just ask my husband, who often gets stuck with the job of carting out all the scraps. He’s a good man.
Is that a cucumber in the foreground? No! Just a well trimmed watermelon rind.
So a quick browse around and it’s a simpler method than I even thought. For half of a medium watermelon the brine is
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July 26, 2012
My palate has wanderlust again. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about Vietnamese food and the influences the French left behind. I have a hankering for Pho. I’m desperate for a good bánh mì.
So it should come as no surprise that when I was invited to put together a dessert recipe Yagööt and the launch of their new line of Yagööt@Home, I chose to go the Southeast Asian route and use some inspired ingredients: coconut frozen yogurt, Thai basil, a French red wine, ginger. Sriracha.
Sometimes a recipe comes together so easily. Ingredients fall into each other like long-lost friends, perfectly happy to hang out again. And while everything except the sugar and strawberries (and the coconut Yagööt of course) in this dessert are savory, I can guarantee that it makes one of the sexiest desserts you’ve ever tasted. And did I mention that it takes only ten minutes to make?
For the red wine in this recipe, I used a Beaujolais-Villages, because it’s widely available as well as relatively inexpensive. An inexpensive pinot noir would work, too. I use only a cup, so heck, you can kind of throw this together if you’ve got a bit of wine left over from dinner. This time, I used fresh strawberries, but you can bet that I’ll be pulling out all those strawberries we picked and froze earlier this year when the weather gets colder. The recipe calls for Thai basil, which is at every Asian grocery store worth its salt. I think it’s pretty critical to the flavor profile of the dessert, but in a pinch you could substitute some standard basil. Sriracha is another seemingly exotic ingredient, but widely available in most grocery stores. Buy a bottle and you’ll find yourself putting this spicy hipster ketchup on everything from your morning eggs to Friday night pizza. It’s delicious.
Feel like being daring? Want to try this recipe? How about some free Yagööt?
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May 25, 2012
There’s only so much jam you can make. Sometimes, you just need to start eating those 16 or 17 pounds of strawberries you picked. And maybe you need to enlist the kids, too. Enter the world’s simplest way to do that: popsicles.
I, of course, can’t just let strawberries be strawberries. Besides, Cherub loves too much to graze through the herbs in the garden, and she’s going to be eating the bulk of these paletas anyway.
For this first batch, I made a quick mix of strawberries and sugar, boiled it for five minutes and then just ever so slightly pulsed them in a blender for a half a second. Then I added in a finely chopped bit of fresh lemon balm (but what’s your favorite? mint? lavender? coriander?), poured into molds and froze.
Voila! The world’s most refreshing snack. And a great breakfast if you’re feeling generous. And it’s especially hot.
Paletas de Fresa y Melisa (Strawberry and Lemon Balm Popsicles), inspired by the post at The Parsley Thief.
1 qt strawberries, tops removed and quartered
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May 6, 2012
This weekend’s weather made me gear back up in the garden, get back in the kitchen and get my groove back. Warm weather is all about ease: barely putting a pot on the stove, most things cooked over the grill. Who needs a mess when the back garden begs you to come and play? A quick ten minutes of chopping and a quick simmer is all it takes to throw this big-enough-to-serve-a-crowd slaw together.
Summer Picnic Slaw for Friends, serves 6
1/2 c rice wine vinegar
1 T whole cumin seeds
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March 18, 2012
We all get stuck in a weeknight routine, I know. I’ve heard the complaints — “I don’t know what to make and I don’t have the time to make it anyway.”
Maybe all you need is to take something familiar and give it a little tweak.
Enter pork jowls. In Italian it’s guanciale, and it’s sliced and cured in a manner similar to bacon. But it’s a deeper, richer almost gamey flavor that brings something different to your weeknight plate. Fry them up, toss them with some familiar ingredients and you’ll have a pasta that’s delicious on its own. Add some slices of easily-prepared monkfish and you can serve your loved ones something wonderfully unexpected.
Just be sure to maintain the mystery: don’t tell them how easy it was.
Pork Jowl Pasta with Roasted Monkfish
For the pasta sauce:
1/3 lbs. of sliced pork jowl
Pinch of red pepper flakes
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March 10, 2012
This is the most marvelous thing to put on top of pasta, fish, crispy duck breasts, wild rice. Oh goodness. It’s good on anything. I’m planning on putting it on top of some eggs and cream cheese and bagels from The Bagel Tree tomorrow morning.
It is many times like this that I feel very much like Nigella Lawson in the final few shots of her television program, greedily going through the fridge, late at night, slathering spicy spreads on whatever it is that she cooked that day. But you know, the woman really knows how to cobble together a bite.
And I do, too, if I do say so myself.
This little spread will work wonderfully on lots of things. And it comes together with just a few ingredients and a fast whiz in the food processor. Moments, really.
Walnut Aillade, makes enough to sauce a dinner for three or four, plus a bit for late night slathering of snacks
1/2 c walnuts
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March 8, 2012
I’ll admit it: I am already greedily longing for spring and summer, despite the blissfully mild central Ohio winter we have had.
Forgive me. I grew up in Texas. And I’m almost certain tomatoes are already in season. OK, that’s being dramatic.
But this daikon slaw somehow reminds me of summer. And grilling outdoors. And warm weather. And love.
It’s simple to pull together from what has kept well during the still – quite seriously – dark days of winter. Its Asian flavors make it interesting for topping a hot dog or snuggling up to a nice piece of pan-roasted fish. It’s as fancy or homey as you want it to be. Flexibility with flair.
And that tastes great any season of the year.
Pickled Daikon Radish Slaw
1 very large daikon radish, peeled and shredded
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
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